Paddleton provides an interesting perspective on a unique friendship


On yet another snow day morning, I encompassed myself in a blanket and curled up on the couch where I would remain for the rest of the day. Per usual, I looked to Netflix for something new to captivate hours of my day. After scrolling through the new releases, I found myself drawn to the movie Paddleton.

The movie is based on the story between two older men who are neighbors with a unique friendship. One of the characters is diagnosed with cancer, and the movie then continues on along this outline with scenes focused on the two playing their favorite game, watching their favorite kung fu movies, and overall reminiscing with one another. Interestingly, the actual title of the movie comes from a game the two created which also serves as their outlet to talk and be together in their own world.

Paddleton is set in the quirky little town of Solvang, California, where the two main actors, Andy (Ray Romano) and Michael (Mark Duplass), live. The two are upstairs neighbors who have also evolved to be best friends in their own way. It is apparent from the beginning that the two are a bit socially awkward and seem to have misfit personalities in general, yet their connection is immediately noticed. The two are almost entirely ignorant of the modern world, and I found the authentic town to fit their atmosphere perfectly.

I thought the misfit men were displayed by actors that perfectly matched the awkward, yet funny personalities of each character. ”

The film quickly jumps straight into the plot in the very first scene. The two main characters are in a hospital room, and Michael is told that he has cancer, developed cancer. The movie then shifts to a series of scenes that show the friendship between Andy and Michael so one can understand what the dynamic is like between the two. I found both characters to be interesting in their own way; they don’t totally make sense as their own people, but their genuine friendship is capable of telling both of their stories.

The film doesn’t consist of any edge-of-your-seat scenes; in fact, many people would find the movie quite boring due to its lack of excitement, yet it was a taste of something different. It told a story that you don’t often catch being shown on the big screen. And while about the first hour takes a while to get into the story, the ultimate, developed conclusion can be worth the patience it takes to get there. It’s a quiet movie that tells a loud story. Obscured emotion is hidden within each character and builds up in each scene until the end. If you genuinely pay attention to the seemingly bland build up, you could be left in tears at the emotional ending.

As far as the lack of excitement goes, I was caught guilty of letting my mind drift off during certain scenes that didn’t pull my attention, yet I found that to be a key of the plot. It’s not meant to tell an incredible story that will keep you entirely enraptured, yet it’s rather meant to tell a simple story with a strong connection to portray.

As far as the casting goes, I thought the misfit men were displayed by actors that perfectly matched the awkward, yet funny personalities of each character. 

Ray Romano was the actor that was cast as Andy, the best friend without cancer. To my surprise, I found Andy being the one in the relationship to be more pessimistic about the whole situation and attempt to just push it away. He was also the character that was very behind in the times and stuck to his own ways, which often caused a scene full of a light laugh. Acting as such a character would be a very demanding role, yet Romano did an excellent job, holding the exact personality. He was able to build up the character of the odd guy who doesn’t seem to have connections with anyone except for his one best friend who doesn’t want to accept letting go.

Mark Duplass was challenged with the role of Michael, who was diagnosed with cancer, yet seems to remain the optimist in the friendship and accepts his illness. The two characters functioned like Eeyore and Winnie the Pooh in a way, where the one with the most to be down about was uncommonly the one who represented Winnie, the happier one. Duplass was forced to constrain much emotion from being shown in most of the scenes, yet when the time came where he needed to let deep emotion out, the actor became part of the story like it was his own. He was a fitting actor for the character of Michael, and after watching the movie, I can’t see the two peculiar main characters being played by anyone else.

Although remaining bland, Paddleton was full of light-hearted comedy that always made me smile, even as the two faced numbered days. I quickly developed an admiration of the friendship between the characters as it describes the way a best friend can mesh perfectly with another and notice things that the one person doesn’t notice about themselves.

Even though the movie trails along in a stale way, I was left with a bittersweet feeling that made me accepting of the hour and twenty-nine minutes I had just spent watching Paddleton.